veggiesLet’s have a show of hands: Have you ever heard people brag about how they don’t have high cholesterol but fail to mention that it’s because they are on drugs to lower their cholesterol? It turns out that this state of denial isn’t just an occasional cocktail party conversation annoyance—it’s a bona fide trend, according to a study published online recently in the JAMA Internal Medicine journal.

The researchers studied data on 28,000 people over the course of a decade and found that statin users increased their daily calorie intake by an average of nearly 200 calories and increased their average daily fat intake from 72 grams to 82 grams. In other words, according to the journal’s editor Dr. Rita Redberg, “Statins provide a false reassurance. People seem to believe that statins can compensate for poor dietary choices and sedentary life.”

But according to the study, popping a pill and bingeing on barbecue is a recipe for disaster. The statin users studied saw their average body mass index increase from 29 (just below obese) to 31 (obese) and their average rate of diabetes increase from 22 percent to 29 percent.

The good news is that there’s an easy (and tasty) way to beat Crestor complacency: Try vegan. Unlike meat, eggs, and dairy products, plant-based foods are 100 percent cholesterol-free. Most vegan foods are also naturally low in fat and calories and high in fiber, complex carbohydrates, vitamins, minerals, and the other vital nutrients.

Studies have shown that certain vegan foods, including soy, oat bran, flaxseeds, and nuts, are super cholesterol busters and can even lower cholesterol as much as statins can. Researchers at the University of Toronto combined all the top cholesterol fighters in one study and found that they reduced LDL, or “bad” cholesterol, by an astounding 35 percent.

Visit PETA’s Living page for hundreds of delicious, heart-healthy recipes.